Mobile Villages and Dynamic Landscapes

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The Varamin Plain from the late 5th to the early 3rd mill. BCE

The Varamin Plain is located c. 50 km southeast of Tehran. Environmental conditions are risky, since the local river causes fl ooding. Our project investigates how Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age societies (5th to early 3rd mill. BCE) cope with this challenging environment.

We posit that varying rhythms and forms of social and economic mobility were crucial factors in enabling
resilient lifeways and responses to periodic crises. We also want to refi ne the existing chronology
of the 5th to 3rd mill. BCE, reconstruct the dynamic prehistoric landscape of the region, document short and
medium term mobilities through careful examination of site stratigraphies, and investigate the procurement
and circulation of resources.

Fieldwork to date has focused on three small settlements dating to the late 5th and early 4th mill. BCE:
Ajor Pazi, Chaltasian and Ahmadabade Kuzehgaran. At these sites, test trenches have revealed evidence
for frequent settlement movements, implying considerable short distance settlement mobility that
may have been related to river bed shifts.

We also investigate the large Proto Elamite site of Tappeh Sofalin that dates to the second half of the 4th mill. BCE. Previous excavations at the site in the years 2006 – 2011 under the direction of Prof. M. Hessari yielded numerous clay tablets, sealings, and seals. The latter indicate a developed administrative system. The presence of this administrative technology contrasts with the limited architectural remains. This raises questions about the site’s function as a focal point in the plain.

Project Initiators:

Reinhard Bernbeck (Free University of Berlin)

Morteza Hessari (Art University of Isfahan)

Susan Pollock (Free University of Berlin)

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